LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Three triplet calves born to an Ashland County beef producer are gaining weight and doing surprisingly well.
John Edmondson, of rural Loudonville, said one of his beef cows delivered three calves in April, while he and his wife were on vacation in North Carolina.
John’s daugther, Marcia Bitner, noticed the cow had begun to give birth — but never expected two — and then a third — to be born.
“I didn’t believe it,” he said. “This was just a freak thing.”
Edmondson said it was cold the day the calves were born, and since he wasn’t home, some local farmers helped get the calves indoors and ensure they were cared for.
But even before help arrived, the mother cow “had them all cleaned up” and has done a good job nursing them since.
Jeff Byers, a local veterinarian and beef producer, said it’s rare for any cow to have triplets, but he’s seen it happen among dairy and beef.
It’s even more rare for the mother and all three calves to survive. Sources vary about the probability of triplets, but many reports say it happens about 1 in every 105,000 births.
However, the probability that all survive and be the same sex is much less, about one in 700,000.
Byers said he does ultrasounds on pregnant dairy cows, and can detect when a cow is carrying three calves. In those cases, he usually recommends terminating the pregnancy because of the risk to the cow and all of the calves.
Beef cattle tend to be more resilient than dairy cows when it comes to birthing multiple calves.
Byers said the goal is to produce one healthy calf per calving, but exceptions do sometimes happen.
The Edmondson calves only weighed about 30-35 pounds each at birth, and are now up to 70-75 pounds. He works for Columbia Gas, and raises beef as a hobby.
Having triplets is not something he planned for or wished for his cow — but so far it seems that all are doing well — and his small herd is growing fast.
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